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Mast Canal issue is environmental

By Staff | Aug 12, 2022

To the editor:

In response to Ms. Nelson’s History and Facts on the Mast Canal:

Ms. Nelson is not the only member of the Council to hide behind zoning history. This is not a zoning issue; it is an environmental issue. Let me repeat — this is not a zoning issue; this is an environmental issue. We do not oppose development or commercial property. We oppose the City’s plan to create commercial property by filling in our canals.

We concur this property is zoned commercial; nor do we object. Ms. Nelson, points out in an email that this property is “100% developed; every lot has a family residence.” While this building negatively impacts the environment, traffic and quality of life in the neighborhood, residents may not provide any input on the administrative review process. We object to that.

Turning a waterway into land must be approved by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the SFWMD, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This is the second application filed for this property. Since the original application was for an office building the USACOE and SFWMD, realizing the material difference between an office building and car wash, required a new application. Unlike the USACOE and SFWMD, the city did not require a new application nor does it have a method to pull back its approval if a project changes or an applicant lies. We object to that.

So with all due respect to Ms. Nelson, the Mast Canal Preservation Group, a group of concerned Cape Coral residents, objects to turning a canal into land. We want the City to stop changing the subject and focus on our environmental concerns:

The environment has never been accurately evaluated. Original site studies and City staff did not identify the manatees in the canal.

The Mast Canal is home to manatees, who feed and nurse their babies there, as well as dolphins, birds, different types of fish, turtles and plant life. The water is warm and brackish.

The Mast Canal feeds into the San Carlos Canal which feeds into the Caloosahatchee River. Any chemicals and detergents that might pollute the water at the end of the Mast canal will travel to the river, affecting the environment all the way through the center of Cape Coral and beyond.

Where is the engineering study that shows 0% pollution of their chemicals and detergents with a car wash built on sand and coral during a Level 5 Hurricane?

The car wash requires 5 wells on 1.8 acres of land — that raises some questions. Even if there is a water recycling system, what happens if an environmental accident occurs?

Approval of changing canal water to land will set a precedent of filling-in canals all over the City; hurting the environment and quality of life in Cape Coral. The City has abdicated its responsibility to the SFWMD and the USACOE, let’s hope they make the right decision.

Maggi Crouthamel

On behalf of The Mast Canal Preservation Group

Cape Coral